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Why Choose Penn Medicine 

Surgeons in the Penn Heart Valve Disease Program perform the most mitral valve surgeries in Pennsylvania. Our repair rate is near 100 percent — far above the national average.

Mitral Valve Surgery Overview

Cardiac surgeons use mitral valve surgery to treat mitral valve regurgitation, mitral valve stenosis and mitral valve prolapse. Leaky and prolapsed valves are excellent candidates for surgical repair. The best surgical option for stenosis is replacement. Your cardiac team will determine the right treatment for you after monitoring your heart structure, valve disease, age and general health.

Mitral Valve Surgery Details

Penn’s cardiac surgeons repair and replace mitral valves using either open-chest surgery or minimally invasive heart surgery. Whenever possible, our expert surgeons will operate on your mitral valve using robotic surgery — a newer approach to minimally invasive surgery.

Valve surgery at Penn takes place in state-of-the-art operating rooms. During your valve repair or replacement:

  • One of our expert cardiac anesthesiologists will administer general anesthesia and ensure that you are sleeping comfortably during the procedure. 
  • Our cardiac team will place you on a heart-lung bypass machine, which pumps blood through your body during the procedure.
  • Your surgeon will make several smaller incisions in your chest (for minimally invasive surgery) or one longer incision in the right part of your chest near the breastbone (for traditional, open-chest surgery). 
  • Your surgeon will repair or replace your damaged mitral valve.
  • The cardiac team will remove you from the bypass machine, ensure your heart is functioning correctly and close your incision.

Mitral Valve Repair

Whenever possible, surgeons at Penn repair mitral valves instead of replacing them. Repairing the mitral valve avoids complications that may occur when the valve is replaced with a prosthetic valve.

Our skilled surgeons use many techniques to repair your valve:

  • Ring annuloplasty: The surgeon sews a ring (made of metal, cloth or tissue) around the valve to tighten or stabilize the repair.
  • Valve leaflet repair: The surgeon alters your mitral valve leaflets by trimming, patching, shaping or rebuilding them so that they close tightly.
  • Artificial chords: The surgeon incorporates artificial chords, which connect valve leaflets to the heart muscle, to support the leaflet and allow it to function normally.

Mitral Valve Replacement

If mitral valve repair is not an option or if your valve is narrowed from mitral valve stenosis, cardiac surgeons can replace your valve surgically. In the procedure, your doctor removes the diseased valve and replaces it with either:

  • Mechanical valve: The mitral valve is replaced with a man-made valve. To prevent blood clots that may accompany a mechanical valve, you doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications.
  • Biological valve: The replacement valve is made from cow, pig or human heart tissue. These valves may wear out over time, requiring another valve replacement.

Cardiac Rehabilitation After Heart Valve Surgery

Your recovery time after mitral valve surgery varies depending on the type of surgery you have. Recovering from minimally invasive surgery is quicker than recovering from traditional open-heart surgery. After any valve surgery, your cardiologist may recommend outpatient cardiac rehabilitation for exercise, nutrition, education and support.

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